Mango Farming Kenya: In 2002, Richard Randa handed his resignation letter to his employer after 20 years of working in both local and international horticultural firms. A burning desire to start his own horticultural farm drove him to mango farming. Armed with Sh478,000 savings and wealth of experience in horticulture, Mr Randa went back to his rural village in Karanda, on the outskirts of Kisumu.
At his farm, Mr Randa often cuts the mango scions and packs them on the fridge ready for export. Since they are highly perishable, they are placed in the fridges and transported to the nearby Kisumu International Airport en route to various destinations.
“I wanted to be my own boss so I thought: why not use the experience I had acquired from my days in the horticulture industry?” Randa, who has worked in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Kenya, told us. While working as supervisor with Kakuzi Ltd and the International Centre for Research, in the early 1980s, Mr Randa oversaw the export of fruits and other horticultural products to the Middle East and other countries.
That is how he developed an interest in mango business. From his savings, he spent Sh. 150,000 buying 600 mango seedlings from Embu and Sh. 270,000 on water pumps and wells. Mr Randa also imported a few foreign mango varieties specifically the Florida which he grafted with the local ones to get the hybrid seedlings.
Today, 38 different varieties of mangoes are to be found on his two-and-half hectares. From the Florida varieties, his clients can get ‘Tommy at kin’, ‘Van dyke’, ‘Kent, Keitt’, ‘Sabin’, ‘Keshington’ and ‘Pavin’ and plant them at their homes. “These varieties can thrive in any weather conditions and any type of soil,” he says.
Given the fruits of these varieties are in high demand and fetch a lot of money, Mr Randa has kept in touch with his former clients who visit his farm to pick the different varieties of mango scions. “I export these varieties to Middle East, Sudan, Uganda and even Europe.”
The coastal or rather the local varieties on his farms include the Ngowe, Apple, Boribo, Dodo, and Batawe. He has about 18 local and 20 foreign/hybrid varieties.
“After two-and-half years, I can harvest mangoes. From one tree, I harvest between 1,000 and 1,200 fruits coming to between 75 and 100 tonnes a year, and bringing the total turnover to Sh1.5 million.
His local clients are business people and traders who buy the fruits in bulk. A mango fruit goes for Sh25 and Sh30 while the ‘mango scion’ costs Sh150 each. He says his passion for mangoes has motivated his neighbours to venture into fruit farming.
“Previously, Nyanza residents never used to plant mangoes because they thought they would take too long to mature,” he says. Moreover, he has also invested in agroforestry in his other two-acre piece of land. With all these investment in place, Mr Randa hopes to invest in mango processing plant for raw fruit processing. Mango Farming Kenya.